§ MR. QUILTER (Suffolk, Sudbury)
I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department for what articles other than mats do contractors furnish materials to the prison authorities; are any of such articles sold in the open market in competition with their respective trades; and, if so, will he 1628 name them; and will he undertake that the information given in the Annual Reports of the Prison Commissioners, in accordance with the Prisons Act of 1877, shall be in the hands of Members a reasonable time before the Prisons Vote comes on for discussion?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART WORTLEY, Sheffield, Hallam)
I have obtained from the Prison Commissioners, and will show to the hon. Member, a list of all the articles made in prisons for which materials are obtained from contractors and which are sold to the public, distinguishing those in the case of which the contractor who supplies the material also purchases the product. The list is too long to read to the House in reply to a question. I regret that I cannot undertake to arrange an earlier presentation of the Annual Report. The year in respect of which it is made does not end till March 31. The preparation of the Report entails the examination of voluminous and complicated accounts, and the preparation and printing of elaborate statistical tables. The dates of the presentation of the Report of late years have ranged between July 24 and September 9. Every effort to secure the earliest possible presentation will continue to be made.
§ MR. QUILTER
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the information he has just alluded to is not in the hands of the House until the Vote has actually been taken, so that Members have no opportunity of studying the Report?
MR. S. WORTLEY
That is undoubtedly the case, not only in respect to this Report but in respect of other Annual Reports which relate to periods which end on the 31st of March.